Sex is big business in Japan, with many well-known directors getting their start making adult movies of various sorts. And sex workers are frequently depicted in non-pornographic Japanese films, from the oiran (courtesans) of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to the call girls of the present, who work for deriheru (“delivery health”) agencies that dispatch them to love hotels like Uber Eats meals.

The realities of the latter job is a main theme of “Life: Untitled,” which director Kana Yamada based on her own stage play. This theme also appears in films by male directors, but Yamada’s approach is more blunt and raw than the genre norm, with the characters’ self-hatred boiling over into wounding words and violent deeds.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.